New I Am Overburdened update, new entry ;)
This time instead of launching new content or features I'm upgrading the graphics of the game a little.
As I hinted before on social media I've been working on multiple graphics related changes. This is the first update for I Am Overburdened focusing only on the visual aspect. If the response is good I may create another similar one :)
Let me know what you think!
The biggest graphical improvement is the auto-tiling feature of the dungeon levels. In short, it is a technique to (dynamically) change tiles based on their neighbors to achieve a much less "blocky" look and to add depth to the scenes.
To me, the difference is night and day. It does make the grid structure of the levels less readable (functionally may be a bit of a downgrade), but it makes the dungeons feel much more claustrophobic so all in all, I feel like it is a big win :)
Some technical details:
The most flexible and well-established method is the "blob" or 8-way auto-tiling where you create special tile graphics with the required corners for all the relevant neighbor combinations (47 exist, the first part of the image). Each neighbor is represented by a bit (power of 2 value, the second part of the image) and by combining the flags of the ~important matching neighbors you get a unique value identifying the required tile.
Even though I coded a system like this long ago I decided to go with a different technique because of the amount of graphical work required...
So I switched to the "sub-tile" approach. It is super simple to implement and requires much less sprite work while still achieving a similar result. The idea here is to split tiles which require special corner graphics and check the relevant neighbors for each corner. To cover each situation 4 variants are required so 16 sub-tiles. Based on the horizontal, vertical and diagonal neighbors of a given corner the appropriate sub-tile graphic can be selected and voila. Auto-tiling.
The looks of the last episode in the game received some valid criticism. My original goal was to make the "Crystalline Cavern" a bit confusing. Almost like a place full of mirrors. I think I went a little overboard and visual clarity suffered a lot.
I've redrawn parts of the tile-set, recolored the rest and a new walking effect was introduced to preserve the reflecting and mirror-like feeling.
The ambient sounds in the inn just weren't doing it justice. I added some splash effects outside of the building to set a more convincing mood.
Bugs & Performance
The fixes and optimizations are graphics related too. The biggest enhancement is the introduction of multiple (rendering) layers within the effect system and overall improved effect handling performance.
This problem probably did not bother many players, but some environment effects looked funny before the introduction of multi-layer spell effects.
Mouse control sprites
There was a tiny sprite state related bug which could only occur when controlling the game with the mouse. Not anymore.
Although the game could always run on a "toaster" hitches and frame-spikes during spell heavy moments weren't uncommon. This is now a thing of the past.
Work continues on I Am Overburdened. The planned content expansion pack is shaping up nicely. So far, I deliberately kept concrete info about it to the minimum since I'm still really bad at estimating the work left and I would like it to be a surprising and bigger release. This means the upcoming few updates will be similar to this and the last one (just a bunch of tiny changes), but I'm going to start teasing the new features in the following weeks ;)
Thanks for taking the time to read my post.